Can We Talk About a Major Problem in Girl’s Education?

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Those of you who know me, or who have followed my blog(s) for a while, should already know how passionate I am about education, literacy, and women’s empowerment. If there is anything in this world I loathe it is the lack of education options for girls around the world. Just knowing that there are beautiful young women hungry to learn, and prohibited from receiving an education, breaks my heart. When Linqia approached me about sharing CARE.org‘s mission to educate young women I jumped on the opportunity. It’s a serious problem and one that is very near and dear to my heart.  Why is it such a serious problem? Because, worldwide…

    • Keeping girls out of school sentences them to a life of poverty and poor health
    • Children of educated mothers are 2x as likely to go to school
    • Women earn 10-20% more for every year of school completed (yet still lag far behind men, but that’s a topic for another day)
    • Children born to literate moms are 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5
Jennifer Osei Boakye, 8 years old, leans out window of the Bosomkyekye Municipal Assembly Primary School in Ghana. She, along with 24 other students were selected to create artwork in conjunction with the celebration for CARE’s 20th anniversary in Atlanta. In all, students from 5 countries around the world were asked to create artwork for an exhibit celebrating the “International Day of the Girl”. CARE has several programs in this area of Ghana, including the REGAL program for students and a training program for teachers.

Our girls need to be in school! Please visit CARE.org to learn more about their initiatives to improve girl’s education. Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons why girls around the world are prevented from receiving an education and so many of them are easily surmountable.For example:

Affording School Uniforms

Many communities, and even entire countries, require children to wear uniforms. For many families, the cost of school uniforms is equal to several weeks or even several month’s of the family’s income.

Gender Discrimination

In places where girls have a lower social status than boys, their education is less valued. When money is tight and families have to make tough choices, they will opt-out of sending girls to school.

Household Chores

In rural communities around the world, girls are often expected to wake before dawn and spend hours fetching water from remote creeks or wells. These girls hardly have time to go to class, or even read on their own.

Distance

Children in remote, rural communities are often too far from the nearest school to attend.

Language

In countries where many languages are spoken, sometimes teachers and students don’t even speak the same language.

Hunger

In poor rural farm communities, one bad harvest can mean the difference between being able to send a child to school or keeping her home. Faced with a choice between food and tuition, families are forced to choose food.

Child Marriage

By one estimate, 1/3 of girls in the developing world are married before they are 18. Child marriage often goes along with being forced to drop out of school and having children very young.

War

When families are forced from their homes by war, their children are forced out of school. Ex. 2.7 million Syrian children have been forced to leave school because of the war there. Friends, gender discrimination as an excuse to keep our girls uneducated deeply saddens me. Our girls are prevented from receiving an education, from learning to read, simply because they are female? How disheartening! All someone has to do is read I Am Malala to be reminded of the power of an educated girl! Unfortunately, gender discrimination remains a major problem and that is the biggest struggle facing the following young girl, Laxmi.

Laxmi Pal, 12 years old, sits on her bed in the Udaan Girls School in Hardoi, India. She was a featured girl in CARE's "International Day of the Girl" art exhibition in Atlanta, GA. The Udaan Girls School provides girls with a core curriculum in language, math, and environmental science subjects. Udaan teachers also interweave activities such as morning assembly, sports (volleyball, soccer), bicycle riding and computer usage.
Photo by Josh Estey.

She’s beautiful, isn’t she? Now, thanks to CARE.org she is also receiving an education. (Omg…is it wrong that my eyes are teary as I write this?)

The 12-year-old grew up in a tiny thatched-roof hut made of dried mud in Kodanna village, believing that she didn’t belong in school. Often seen as outsiders, girls in this rural farming village of 90 families do housework and look after their younger siblings until they marry and move out at around age 14. Being the oldest of five kids, the burden fell on Laxmi’s shoulders. She’d spend her days home alone with her brothers and sisters, feeling sad and entrapped, while her mother was away cleaning houses and her father struggled to find seasonal work on farms. Laxmi broke that tradition on July 15 when she set foot in a classroom for the first time, becoming the only member in her immediate family to ever go to school. At the CARE-supported Udaan residential school in Hardoi, located 15 miles from Kodanna, adolescent girls like Laxmi who had either never enrolled or were forced to drop out are given a second chance to learn through an accelerated bridge course. After just 11 months at the Udaan campus, Laxmi will graduate from the fifth grade. Then she’ll be mainstreamed into a government school to continue her education.

Ahhhh, it breaks my heart. (Learn more about Laxmi in her video). We take education for granted here in the US. I mean, sure we all complain about the cost of education and the pressure of repaying student loans but can you imagine if you weren’t allowed to attend school simply because you’re female? Friends, it enrages me!  So, let’s help, shall we? While it would be excellent if you would donate toward the initiative to improve girls’ education and give a back-to-school gift that’s not what I’m asking you to do today. All I want you to do is visit CARE.org and learn more about their work toward improving education worldwide.

Let’s Talk…

  • Visit CARE.org and scroll to the bottom of the page where there are 8 astonishing statistics about girls education. Then, in the comments below please tell me which one you found the most amazing. Let’s get real and talk about this issue.

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Ashley LaMar
Ashley lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two small dogs. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. She also loves horror movies.

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